Kauri Creek Canoeing

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Atherton Tablelands

Kauri Creek Canoeing

Words and photos by Leah Stevenson

Kauri Creek is one of our families’ favourite canoeing destinations. It is a perfect canoe trip for canoeing newbies, or for paddlers looking for an afternoon adventure. Kauri Creek is a cool rainforest creek initiated deep in the mountains of Danbulla National Park and State Forest. It is renowned for its tranquillity because dense rainforest surrounds it and offer a profound sense of being on your own. You get that ‘middle-of-nowhere’ kind of feeling. I recommended canoeing this creek via Lake Tinaroo from the Kauri Creek camping area.

Adventure Specs

Travelling to the Kauri Creek camping area  

    • 1.5 hrs, 70km from Cairns
    • 20 minutes, 9 km from Tinaroo Falls

Paddle distance: 1200 metres return. It’s a short trip: relax and enjoy the view.

Time: 1-2.5 hrs. Depending on if you take it slow, bird watch, splash around or take lunch.

Skill level- Ability to paddle on flat water and navigate around rocks and sandbars, with and against light currents in shallow water.

Let’s Go Canoeing

Kauri Creek is a rainforest creek nestled on the northern side of Kauri Creek camping area and links to the Kauri Creek picnic area. The camping area is on a grassy point and surrounded by water on most sides, with views of Lake Tinaroo and tropical rainforest. It is a popular camping area for water sports enthusiasts and has easy boat access into the lake.

Once your canoe is afloat and you are ready for your adventure, turn east (left) around the point and head into Kauri Creek. The canoe trip is an easy effort paddle and bird watching opportunity. On our canoe trip, we saw Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata), Masked Lapwings (Vanellus miles), and Intermediate Egrets (Adrea intermedia).

As the mouth of the creek narrows, the creek becomes quite shallow. The rainforest trees bend inwards to take advantage of the open space for light and shades the creek nicely. The depth of Lake Tinaroo can vary depending on the amount of rain during the wet season. This means that as the weather dries out, so will the water level in Kauri Creek. If you go later in the year, you may need to walk the shallower parts of the creek, however, this is quite nice in warmer weather. 

Kauri Creek is a little further along an unsealed section of Danbulla Road. It is less busy than in some of the other areas. The area was once forest and there are still remnants of tree trunks that can be just out of sight under the water. These hazards make the area unsafe for water skiing or boarding. However, it is ideal for the non-motorised water sports or for motorised boater’s that plan to head out into other parts of the lake for their adventure. At the time of our trip, the lake was at 97.5 per cent capacity and the water was high enough for a fire pit to be partially underwater (another one of those tricky underwater hazards).

Though the Kauri Creek picnic area is accessible by road, travelling to the picnic area by canoe and mooring below the bridge can add to the adventure.

How to get there

From Tinaroo Falls township, follow Tinaroo Falls Dam Road /Danbulla Road for 9 kilometres, then turn right into the Kauri Creek camping area. Follow the track past the information board, toilets and about 50 metres further on the right is a steep grassed slope to an unsealed boat ramp. 

Note: Tinaroo Falls Dam Road is a narrow, partially sealed road and it can be rough at times, so take care, particularly for 2WD vehicles. 

What to take

For our canoe trip, we took a 3-seater canoe, life jackets and canoe paddles. Stand-up paddle boards and paddle boards would also be great for this journey. 

We also took a dry-bag for our personal items, first-aid kit, and snacks. We had enough water for 2 hrs of light physical activity. (No potable water facilities at the camping area.)

Insect Repellent- If needed, my family uses repellent wristbands as an insect deterrent to avoid lotion style repellents contaminating the water.

Permits- Planning to fish in the Lake? Lake Tinaroo is stocked with barramundi. This means that fishing requires a fishing permit for people over the age of 18. See the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website for more information. Camping? If you plan to camp, QPWS camping permit is required. See QPWS website for more information.

Leah Stevenson and family are outdoor recreation enthusiasts and enjoy hiking, canoeing, camping, and mountain biking adventures. Leah and Rob Stevenson operate Off Camber Mountain Biking, and they offer MTB skill clinics & weekly programs for kids, beginners, and experienced riders, here on the Atherton Tablelands. Off Camber now has loan bikes for programs & clinics! More information: offcamber.com.au

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Atherton Tablelands

Leah Stevenson

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